Deeside Runners Ballater 10 miler 
28th July 2013 

Gun time: 1hr 25min 11sec – NEW PB!
Finish position: 105th/165
Female finishers: 21st/63
Senior female finishers: 13th/28

The Ballater 10 mile race was my first 10 miler when I ran it two years ago. Having ran a couple of Half marathons by then, the shorter distance of 10 miles was a pleasant surprise. I remember loving it and thought it was a shame that 10 miles is not  a more popular distance. There is the Arbroath Smokies Ladies 10 miler in March which I did last year, but I didn’t race it due the D33 being the week after so Vikki and I paced a friend to a 1hr 45min finish.

I wasn’t able to run this race last year so I was really looking forward to a second go at the course. I remembered it as being very undulating in the first few miles with a large hill in the middle, which I struggled with and walked. I am getting stronger and stronger at running up hills these days so I was hoping I’d be less troubled with them this year and quietly set a simple goal to not walk, even if it was as tough as I remembered.

After a gorgeous day on Saturday, I awoke at 6am to the rain coming down in sheets and making a huge racket on the roof. I turned over and went back to sleep, hoping desperately that it would rain itself out by 9am when my alarm was set. It turned out I didn’t need an alarm as SEPA issued a flood alert for Stonehaven just before 9am so both Kynon and I’s phones burst into song as the automatic message was relayed by phone call. The events of last December are never far from my mind and it is impossible to not fear the worst whenever the rain gets heavy.

image

However, I got myself ready and headed up to Vikki’s house to pick up her and Gina. I was glad for the company on the journey which took about an hour. The weather was absolutely atrocious with the roads covered in deep surface water and the rain lashing down. We kept on telling ourselves – at least it isn’t cold! I would rather race in extreme rain than extreme heat so I wasn’t hugely bothered, but I knew the hanging around at the start would be hard.

image

We put on rain jackets but mine was totally useless; I was soaked through in an instant, but it wasn’t windy and wasn’t cold. I actually hadn’t registered in advance so I filled out a form and paid in cash – I really liked that this was possible to do as the lead time for registering for some races is getting more and more ridiculous.

image

We didn’t have long to wait before the start so we passed the time waiting in the clubhouse. Someone blew a whistle and gestured for everyone to get out of their cars, out of the clubhouse and away from their dry sanctuary to the starting line on the other side of the park. The weather may have affected the numbers a little, but there was still a healthy turn out with plenty of Stonehaven Running Club there to compete for more points in our club championship.
There was no hanging around once we were all assembled at 12pm, and a 3-2-1-GO set us on our way. The route was just like before and took us through the centre of Ballater, usually bustling with tourists  but today it was mainly deserted with confused faces peering out of cafe windows wondering what was going on as we passed in the pouring rain.
The route is truly beautiful and shows off Royal Deeside at its finest. The rain was producing a wonderfully earthy smell of damp pine trees and the air felt fresh and clean to run through which was a lovely change after the recent mix of humidity and dry heat.  I hadn’t given too much thought to the pace I wanted to run at since I was starting the race with 43 miles in my legs from the previous week, including a 20 mile trail run the day before. I figured I’d see how I felt and call it on the morning; as it turned out my legs felt absolutely fine so I decided to try and keep up with Vikki who was aiming for 1hr 25 or quicker. I realised that I had no idea what pace that translated to though, so I though 8:30 or thereabouts would be a good estimate.
The first few miles were as lumpy as I remembered. The ‘big’ hill started at around 4.5 miles and I cruised up steadily through the trees, finding the incline no trouble at all. I passed a few people who had slowed to a walk and as I reached the top I saw Vikki about 50 meters ahead of me which was a surprise – she’d been out of sight for a few miles and I thought she would be way ahead of me by now. There was a water stop at the top of the hill and then I could settle in for the long descent and make up some time lost on the hill.

Splits miles 1 – 5 – 8:08 – 8:37 – 9:15 – 8:34 – 9:09

I was totally soaked through but running through the rain and splashing through the puddles was exhilarating, especially on the off-road section from mile 6. I continued to see Vikki ahead of me but she loves a fast downhill as much as I do so I wasn’t gaining any ground on her!  The second half of the race flew by – over the shoogly bridge, up the steep track on to the A93, along the main road for a bit and then on to the final downhill into Ballater and along the over-grown footpath back to the field for the last torturous circuit of the park on the grass before crossing the line.

Splits miles 6 – 10 – 8:09 – 8:33 – 8:52 – 8:12 – 7:42

Eventually I got within 40 seconds of Vikki she was just too quick to catch! She knew that I was closing in on her and saw me behind her at points which she said spurred her on to go faster. When I crossed the line I flumped to my knees on the soggy grass and caught my breath whilst sitting in a puddle – I was so wet it didn’t even matter! I finished 3rd of the Stonehaven ladies which will have earned me 18 championship points. After 4 championship races I think I’m now in 3rd place – this is due to luck rather than skill I fear; If any more of the fast girls from the club had turned up on Sunday I’d be a lot further down the table! I have no hope of threatening the top places for much longer but I’m glad to be at least a little bit competitive in my first year.

The Stonehaven men won the male fastest club prize, we hung around hopefully just in case we might have earned the fastest female club, but that honour went to Deeside Runners. After a quick change into some dry clothes we headed home; it would have been nice to stay for lunch and a potter around Ballater but the weather was really not in favour for that.

I was really pleased with this race and how I performed. A 13 minute PB is great in itself, but I was more happy about how strongly I was able to run after such a tough week of training. It shows that I’m in great shape at the moment and that training is going very well. Another boost for a positive outlook for the sub 4 attempt at Moray in 4 weeks.